INSIGHTS: All About Christmas by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Christmas all about

ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Nowhere in the Scripture where we could find the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Traditionally, we claim that Christ was born on the 25th of December. But as to its veracity is still debatable. Some argued that Jesus was born not on the month when the weather is as cold as that of December. Scholars believe that the month of December was chosen only to counteract the pagan Roman celebrations honoring their pagan gods i.e. Mithras (god of light) and Saturnus (the harvest god).
However, I believe that exact date of Jesus’ birth should not be of so much concern to anyone considering the fact that Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation and not just a memorial of a specific date. Christmas is not just about the birth of Jesus. It doesn’t matter therefore even if we may not be celebrating Jesus’ birth on the exact date when he was born. The celebration of his birth should be contemplated in its deeper meaning and that is the mystery of Jesus’ incarnation. The Son of God became a man. In the Nicene Creed we profess, “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made a man.”

The word Christmas originates from the Old English “Cristes Maesse” literally translated “the Mass of Christ.” And therefore every time the Mass is celebrated and we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we are like celebrating Christmas. Christmas is all about Jesus becoming a man to be with us.

We celebrate Christmas Eve because it is believed that Jesus was born at midnight. Significantly, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, literally means “the house of bread.” In Hebrew, Beth-lehem is two words and means “house” (Beth as in Beth-el, “house of God”) and “bread” (lehem). While Jesus was laid in a manger. The manger in itself has its significance. The word “Manger” comes from the Latin word “Munducare” meaning “to eat.” It was, therefore, highly symbolic that Jesus was laid in a manger. We now have a more profound understanding of the Eucharist. The manger has become a sign that Jesus is sustenance for us. In the Eucharist, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). We partake of Jesus in the form of Bread and Wine (His Body and Blood).

The story of Christmas is the story of God’s becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. But why would God wants to be with us? Well, because we need a Savior. We need redemption. And because God loves us so much. Celebrating Christmas is a celebration of God’s immense love for mankind. The real meaning of Christmas should be a celebration of God’s love with our family and friends. Make the celebration of Christmas more meaningful by imitating Christ in the giving of himself. Nowadays Christmas has become too commercialized. Have we lost the true meaning of Christmas? Let us put Christ back in the celebration of Christmas. Our focus should not be on material things that could only bring us fleeting and superficial happiness. One should seek the joy that Christmas brings. Christ alone could provide us that real joy. Let’s find more meaning in the giving than in receiving.
At this point, allow me to share with you my favorite Christmas story:

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. Henry
O. Henry tells of a famous Christmas story. It is about a young married couple who were very much in love. Christmas was approaching and they wanted to give a present to one another. But they were very poor and had no money for presents. So each one, without telling the other, decided to sell his or her most precious possession. The girl prized above all else her long golden hair. She went to a hairdresser and had it cut off. She then sold it to buy a lovely watch chain for her husband’s watch.
He, in the meantime, went to a jeweler and sold the only watch he had to buy two beautiful combs for his beloved’s hair.
On Christmas, they exchanged their gifts. At first, they cried, then they laughed. There was no hair for the comb and no watch for the watch chain.
But there was something more precious and that was the idea behind their gifts: each had deprived self of the best to give to the other…
A gift is no gift if it does not cost us something if it does not contain a part of ourselves. (Frank Mihalic – The next 500 stories)
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God gave us the most precious of all gifts – the gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus. It was the gift of his presence. Christmas is all about God wanting to be with us. He is Emmanuel, meaning God is with us. When we look at the manger, we do not only see a cute baby boy. That baby boy grew up and offered himself on the cross to save us. Christmas is therefore about Jesus and his saving love for us. It could thus be summarized (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave us His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but may have eternal life.”

Wishing everyone a grace-filled Christmas! All the best for 2019

 

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Reflection: Fourth Sunday Of Advent (C) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th Advent 2018 pater1

A Reflection Of The Heart
Fourth Sunday Of Advent (C)
23rd December 2018
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:

FIRST READING: MICAH 5:2-5a

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem of Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now, his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: PSALM 80

R. RESTORE US, O GOD: LET YOUR FACE SHINE, THAT WE MAY BE SAVED.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Restore us, O God: let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong
R. Restore us, O God: let your face shine, that we may be saved,

May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Restore us, O God: let your face shine, that we may be saved,
*

SECOND READING: Hebrews 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

First, he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.
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GOSPEL ACCLAMATION:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Here am I, the servant of the Lord: let it be done to me according to your word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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GOSPEL: Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:
We have now reached the final week of our sojourn in the Advent season. As we light the fourth candle of the Advent Wreath we are being invited to reflect on the love of God. The fourth candle of Advent symbolizes Love. And therefore this Fourth Sunday of Advent reminds us that God is love, that we were created out of love and that God brought salvation to humankind because of love, and now He wants to be born in our hearts. This should be our reflection as we await the coming of Christ in our celebration of Christmas. The birth of our Lord Jesus – his Incarnation is all about God’s love of mankind.
But why is there a need for us to contemplate on God’s love? When we contemplate on the depth of God’s love for us we are filled with awe and wonder. Psalm 8:4 “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands, you put everything under their feet.” The immensity of God’s love for us humbles us. Then we become grateful people. Our hearts are filled with a profound sense of gratitude. And for this, our response should be one that glorifies God. God is love, and therefore, we should emulate that love in us. So what must we do? In today’s Gospel, the two women, Mary and Elizabeth showed us a perfect example of what must we do. At that time, Mary had just received the news from the Angel that she was to be the mother of Christ. She also learned that her cousin Elizabeth was with a child in her old age. So she went in haste and set out on a journey to be with her cousin. It was such a manifestation of Mary’s great humility and love. Considering the fact that Mary had just received the news that she is to be the mother of Jesus and that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her. That news that she had just received from an angel was something way beyond human comprehension. Yet under such circumstances, she set aside her personal concerns and worries to take care of her cousin and in great humility she served. Both women have received immense grace from God, both of them have found joy in their hearts, both of them have learned to share that love of God with one another. Now both women have become models to us all. All of us, just like Elizabeth and Mary are being called to respond to God’s love. We do this by loving one another. Our love of God demands that we love our neighbor. As we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent and as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus, let us be reminded of its real purpose and meaning which is God’s love. We are therefore being called to be people of love. At this point let me share with you one of my favorite Christmas stories:

Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.

As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox.

Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, “This is for you, Daddy!”

As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. “Don’t you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside the package!”

The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: “Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full.”

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends, and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold. (Author Unknown)

Today, let us thank God for giving us that certainty that we are loved. Despite our weaknesses, our sinfulness and shortcomings God will never give up on us – for we are loved unconditionally. That love should be enough a reason for us that we too become more loving of others. Let us love with the love of God.

A Reflection: Third Sunday Of Advent (C) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

3rd Advent 2018 pater

A Reflection Of The Heart
A REFLECTION: THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)
GAUDETE SUNDAY
16th December 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:

FIRST READING: Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you
he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.
*
The Word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (ISAIAH 12)

R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy, you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
*

SECOND READING: PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
*
The Word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (LUKE 4:18)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL: Luke 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:

The celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent to me could be likened to an intermission of a play. An intermission in a play is important because it builds anticipation for what’s to come in the acts to follow, the break also gives the audience and the actors a little time to prepare for the next act. Likewise, the celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent serves as a little break in our journey of the season. Basically, our spiritual sojourn during Advent is a call to a repentance, conversion, and renewal. It encourages us to make some sacrifices, self-reflection, examination of conscience, self-denial to prepare ourselves for Christmas as well as in our anticipation of the coming of our Lord and Saviour at the end of time. The Advent message, therefore, is a serious business for us Catholics. We do not take things for granted. We heed to that call. But then in our Liturgy for this Sunday, we see a shift of moods i.e. from a call to repentance and renewal to an invitation to rejoice. Our readings proclaim the message of joy and jubilation. Thus the reason why the liturgical color also changed from purple to rose. We also light the rose-colored candle of the Advent wreath. Rose signifies Joy. The Third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning “Rejoice.’ The word came from Philippians 4:4,5 “Gaudete in Domino Semper.” (Rejoice in the Lord always.)
At the heart of the Gospel message is an invitation for us to rejoice. This is the reason why God created us so that He may share with us His joy. Joy is also the reason for our existence. The joy that I am talking about is not something that is equated with just being happy. It is not something that is fleeting, superficial and external. It is something profound, lasting and real. A true follower of Christ seeks not just happiness but joy. Happiness is temporary but joy is permanent since it is founded in the Lord. One can experience joy even in the face of trials, sufferings, and tribulations. So do not be a mere happy person but a joyful person.
Contrary to the impression of some, embracing our Catholic belief should make us people of joy. Our religion is a religion of joy. Something must be wrong if our experience of religion is one of an experience of sadness. In John 15:11 Jesus said “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
Was our Lord Jesus joyful? People are used to having an image of a melancholic Jesus, a suffering Messiah. I am convinced that part of Jesus’ charisma was his being a joyful person. That was what made people of different walks of life being drawn to Jesus that includes the sinners and tax collectors. You won’t enjoy the company of someone who is not pleasant and joyful. So Jesus was a joyful and probably a humorous person. In fact, we even find something humorous in some of the Gospel texts. For example, in describing the Pharisees, Jesus said they are like blind leading a blind. In Matthew 9:13, when asked why he and the disciples didn’t fast, He said”Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course, not!” And in Beatitudes, Jesus shared with us the reasons to be joyful. We call the Beatitudes ” Be happy attitudes.” And lest we forget that the very first miracle Jesus performed here on earth transpired at a wedding at Cana. So Jesus mingled with the people. He enjoyed the company of the people. He laughed with them. He wept with them. It was a human experience. Jesus empathized with us completely and share with us in our joys and in our sadness.
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist gives practical ways in which one could find joy. He tells them to be generous, to always do the right thing, not to cheat and to find contentment in life. When things are dark, when our life is beset with problems, do we become bitter and resentful? Today’s liturgy is a challenge and an invitation to “Rejoice always in the Lord.”
To conclude our reflection, let us reflect on the insights of the prophet Habakkuk:
Habakkuk 3:17-19
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

(Story from an unknown source)

One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of a town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick. Suddenly, my daughter, Aspen, spoke up from her relaxed position in her seat. “Dad, I’m thinking of something.”

This announcement usually meant she had been pondering some fact for a while and was now ready to expound all that her six-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear.

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“The rain!;” she began, “is like sin, and the windshield wipers are like God wiping our sins away.”

After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. “That’s really good, Aspen.”

Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little girl take this revelation? So I asked… “Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?”

Aspen didn’t hesitate one moment with her answer: “We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us.” I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on.

In order to see the rainbow, you must first endure some rain.

The real joy is always found in the grace of a faithful, a loving and a forgiving God.

REFLECTION: Second Sunday Of Advent C by Rev. Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines

2nd Advent 2018 pater

A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Second Sunday Of Advent (C)
9th December 2018
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:

FIRST READING: BARUCH 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;
look to the east and see your children
gathered from the east and the west
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:
but God will bring them back to you
borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.
The forests and every fragrant kind of tree
have overshadowed Israel at God’s command;
for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory,
with his mercy and justice for company.
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

Response: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
*
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those who sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
*

SECOND READING: PHILIPPIANS 1:4-6, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the gospel
from the first day until now.
I am confident of this,
that the one who began a good work in you
will continue to complete it
until the day of Christ Jesus.
God is my witness,
how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: LUKE 3:4, 6
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
*

GOSPEL: Luke 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,
when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea,
and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee,
and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region
of Ituraea and Trachonitis,
and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,
as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
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The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:

Matthew 5:48 tells us, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Perfection is Jesus command and standard. But do we obey Jesus’ command wholeheartedly? Are we living to his standard? Perhaps, there’s a desire. We want to obey his command and live his standard. But something is holding us back. Something irresistible and powerful that is keeping us to achieve perfection i.e. sin. We are sinners. We are always struggling with sin. Struggling with sin means that we are still committing sins no matter how much we try not to. This reminds me of St. Augustine when he said, “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet.” Here we see a man who wanted to be sexually pure but still enjoying it. In his book, Confession, we see the many struggles of Augustine to be holy. When finally he succeeded, Augustine prayed, “Late, have I loved thee, my Lord.” There are people who are indeed struggling with sin. They fight against sin a little but ended up giving into it. A real Christian is someone who struggles against sin and aims to be victorious by asking Christ for strength. By ourselves, it is never easy to conquer sin. So we need the grace from God to be able for us to stand firm in the face of temptations. That is why in the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus teaches us to say, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Pope Francis said. “This is the difference between a sinner and a man who is corrupt. One who leads a double life is corrupt, whereas one who sins would like not to sin, but he is weak or he finds himself in a condition he cannot resolve, and so he goes to the Lord and asks to be forgiven. The Lord loves such a person, he accompanies him, he remains with him. And we have to say, all of us who are here: sinner yes, corrupt no”.

Pope Francis, differentiate to us clearly the meaning of being a sinner and a man who is corrupt. A man who is corrupt is totally blinded. He does not acknowledge that he is ill and therefore needs a healer. He is not humble enough to accept his weaknesses and shortcomings. He doesn’t see any wrongdoings. He always justifies his own action. But a sinner recognized that he commits mistakes and truly sorry for it. Having the courage that we are sinners means we are open to receive Jesus’ grace. This is the challenge that we face on this Second Sunday of Advent. John the Baptist is calling us to a true repentance of sin. He is “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'” There is some kind of an urgency in the call of St. John. The call to a repentance is of utmost important as well as urgent. And so we respond to it – A.S.A.P. (Normally, ASAP is an abbreviation for “As Soon As Possible.” But in this case, I have a different acronym for ASAP. To respond to the call of REPENTANCE (ASAP) means:

A- Acknowledge one’s sinfulness. If we say that we have not sinned, that’s a lie. We are all sinners. We commit mistakes sometimes. Psalm 32:5 says, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgression to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” A recognition of one’s sinfulness is a sign of humbling oneself before the Lord. It is an important step to true repentance.

S-Sorrow. True repentance means that we feel a deep sense of sorrow in our hearts, even disgust for committing sins. Sometimes people feel sorry only because they have made a mess of their lives, or just because they were caught and were put into an embarrassment. But real sorrow comes from within. It comes from a recognition of God’s love and our lack of response to it.

A-Action. Real repentance demands action. Zacchaeus recognized his faults. He begged for forgiveness. But not only that, he even intended to do something about it, he said, “Lord, if I have defrauded anyone I will pay him fourfold.” True repentance means doing something for the remission of sins. An approach to the Sacrament of Reconciliation is making a good start.

P-Pray. Pray for the strength. Pray for the grace. We need to pray. Even if we have acknowledged our sinfulness and have been forgiven, it does not necessarily mean that we are not going to sin anymore. Sometimes we find committing the same sins over and over again. But do not despair. Someone said “I have plenty of sins, they are great. I am really not sure God will forgive me. The disciples Judas and Peter both committed sins. One betrayed the Lord, the other denied him. Both recognized their mistakes and both repented. But there is a difference. Judas wallowed into despair but Peter did not lose hope. So pray to God when you find yourself tempted and never lose sight of his love and forgiveness.

John the Baptist in today’s Gospel is calling us and challenging us to REPENT. Let us respond to him -ASAP! For this is also the same invitation and challenge of our Lord Jesus to us all – Matthew 4:17 – “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Homily: First Sunday Of Advent (C) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

1st Sunday Advent

A Reflection Of The Heart
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)
2nd December 2018
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:

FIRST READING: Jeremiah 33:14-16
The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, at that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot ;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.”
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks be to God.
*

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
R. (1b) TO YOU, O LORD, I LIFT MY SOUL.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God, my savior,
and for you, I wait all the day.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy
toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him,
and his covenant, for their instruction.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
*

Reading 2
SECOND READING:1 THESSALONIANS 3:12-4:2
Brothers and sisters:
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that,
as you received from us
how you should conduct yourselves to please God
and as you are conducting yourselves
you do so even more.
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
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GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: (PSALM 85:7)
Alleluia. Alleluia. Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Alleluia.
*

GOSPEL: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples:
“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:

A new Liturgical Year commences with the celebration of the First Sunday of Advent. The celebration of Advent reminds us that Christmas is fast approaching. This is the time of the year when the Church invites us to spend more time in prayer and reflection so that we may contemplate on the fact that God gave us the greatest gift on the first Christmas eve i.e. the gift of the Incarnation of His only begotten Son – our Lord Jesus Christ. Advent comes from the Latin word ‘Adventus’ which means ‘coming.’ Advent season celebrates the anticipated second coming of our Lord Jesus in the fullness of time, as well as his first coming in his incarnation on the first Christmas day. Which means that our reflection in the season of Advent should not only be focused on the celebration of Christmas. I believe that the celebration of Christmas becomes more meaningful and profound when we celebrate it in joyful anticipation for the second coming of our Lord into our lives. Therefore, being Advent people means we are a people in anticipation of someone who is yet to come. We cannot but be filled with awe as we reflect on the mystery of Jesus’ coming. But our anticipation for the coming of Jesus should not only leave us in wonders and awe …it should mean ‘action’ or doing something while we await Jesus’ return. The best preparation that we could do is to prepare ourselves spiritually. The season of Advent, therefore, is our journey for spiritual growth.
So what must we do? Psalm 51:10 says it beautifully, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” This is the best preparation that we could do – to cleanse our hearts. I’d like to make some suggestions wherein we could achieve a clean and pure heart. I call these the Three Rs in the spiritual growth:

First R – stands for Repentance. Repent from sins. To do this one should recognize that we are sinners. Nobody’s perfect. We all commit mistakes. We all have our weaknesses. We screw up and make a mess sometimes. As long as we exist, we will keep on committing mistakes. And once a sin has become habitual, soon it will become a necessity. Sin is always deceitful. It offers fleeting happiness. It offers beauty, pleasures, and fulfillment but in the end, it only delivers unhappiness and death. Somebody likened committing sin to use a credit card. It follows this scheme – “Enjoy now, pay later!” If one is not careful in using a credit card, the tendency is to dig deeper until one finds himself in a situation where it has become difficult to fix the mess he himself created. You are now caught in a web wherein it won’t be easy to get out. In the end, a man pays the price i.e. unhappiness and to some extent eternal damnation. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.” The good news is that in the Kingdom of God we always find hope. A sincere and a repentant heart will give us the grace of total forgiveness. This is the reason why God make the Sacrament of Reconciliation available to us. The season of Advent is calling us to a sincere repentance. The best preparation, therefore, is to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Come to Jesus with a sincere and a contrite heart.

Second R- stands for Release – Release yourself from heavy loads of bitterness and unforgiveness. Do not let anger and unforgiveness dwell in your heart. Harboring grudges causes pains in our hearts that leads to bitterness. The way to unload our burdens is to learn to forgive from the heart. But why is it so hard to forgive? Forgiveness is always possible when we ask grace from the Lord, the author of forgiveness and love. When burdens weighed us down, offer them to the Lord. Psalm 55:22 – Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

The third R – stands for Relationship. God wants to build an intimate relationship with us. Be friends with God again. Have always a deep desire for intimacy with God. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. God wants us to be happy. In fact, He commands us to be happy. 1 Thessalonians 5:46 – “Be joyful always.” But why are some people so unhappy? We always find a lonely existence when we turn ourselves far away from the love of God. True happiness can only be found in God. So when we find ourselves lost and wandered far away from God, we can always turn back to Him. Seek His love and forgiveness. God loves to take his children back to the flock, to build them up again and to restore their dignity once again as children of God.

This Sunday as we light the first candle of Advent wreath which symbolizes Hope. We contemplate that Hope – a Hope that God will come again to share with us His glory.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel.
That mourns in lonely exile here. Until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Reflection: Solemnity Of Christ the King B by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Christ the King Pater Ace

A Reflection Of The Heart
SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS, KING OF THE UNIVERSE (B)
25th November 2018
A REFLECTION: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:

FIRST READING: DANIEL 7:13-14

As the visions during the night continued, I saw
one like a Son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
when he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship;
all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.
The Word of the Lord/Thanks be to God.
*
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 93:1, 1-2, 5

R. (1a) The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

The LORD is king, in splendor robed;
robed is the LORD and girt about with strength.
R. The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

And he has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting, you are, O LORD.
R. The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, for a length of days.
R. The LORD is king; he is robed in majesty.

SECOND READING: Revelation 1:5-8

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father,
to him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Behold, he is coming amid the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him.
All the peoples of the earth will lament him.
Yes. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, ” says the Lord God,
“the one who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
The Word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God.
*

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: MARK 11:9-10
Alleluia. Alleluia. Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David; blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Alleluia.
*

GOSPEL: JOHN 18:33b-37

Pilate said to Jesus,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
For this, I was born and for this, I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
The Gospel of the Lord/Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:
The Liturgical year comes to a conclusion with our celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today the Church invites us to reflect on the kind of Jesus’ kingship. Is Christ really King? Why do we call him King? The word king connotes the idea of someone powerful, someone who rules with an army and a kingdom. But Christ’ image is far from the idea of the kind of an earthly king. Jesus said in today’s Gospel text, “My Kingdom is not from this world. If my Kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my Kingdom is not from here.” And so what kind of king is he? Christ kingship is a mystery. An image of Christ as a king is not easy to fathom. He is King yet he was tried before Pilate, He is King yet he was stripped of his robes. He is King yet he carried the Cross. He is King yet he was crucified…he suffered and died. Yet from the Cross Jesus gives us a powerful insight of what true kingship and his Kingdom are all about. Yes, Christ is King, a someone powerful yet his power lies in his sacrifice on the Cross. He is king because he rules yet there is only one law to follow i.e. the law of love. He is king because he has a kingdom, but his Kingdom dwells within every person’s heart. He is king yet he comes not to be served but to serve. His power is founded in Humility, Service, and Love. The prayer in the Preface of the Mass best describes Christ’ Kingship – “a Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace.”
Therefore, we make Christ the King reigns in our hearts when we imitate Jesus our King in our lives. When like him we learn to forgive from the heart. When we learn to give the kind of sacrifice Jesus gives. When we learn to serve in humility.When we learn to love even if it hurts. Making him reign in our hearts is never easy amidst the so many hatred, greed, injustice in the world today. But there is power in forgiveness. There is peace in acceptance. There is joy in hope. And there is healing in forgiveness. A while ago, I came across an article circulating on the internet. It’s a very powerful open letter, originally written in French by a Paris man intended to the terrorists who killed his wife during one of the attacks on the Bataclan concert hall. The letter is now going viral. What struck me most is the man’s ability to forgive, to accept and to seek peace, understanding, and hope in the midst of such a horrible experience. Let me share with you this open letter that we may ponder upon:

“Friday night, you took an exceptional life — the love of my life, the mother of my son — but you will not have my hatred I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in His heart.

So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course, I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access.

We are just two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life, this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.”
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How could something so painful and tragic make this person forgive? It is his faith in God. Obviously, God reigns in his heart for he chose to love and forgive.
Let us then share in the Kingship of Christ by living a life of unity rather than division, a life of forgiveness than revenge. a life of joy than hopelessness, and a life of love than hatred. Let Christ reigns in our hearts!

Homily:33rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Alen Baclor Abadines

33rdS

33rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)

by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

 

GOSPEL: MARK13:24-32
Jesus said to his disciples:
“In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

“And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

“Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.

“But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:
Today we celebrate the 33rd Sunday in ordinary time. And next Sunday we will conclude the Liturgical Year (B) with our celebration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Since we are near the end of our Church’s calendar, it is not surprising that today we are being invited to reflect on the Eschaton. Eschaton refers to the Last Things such as death, end time, judgment, heaven, hell, purgatory, new heaven, new earth. Eschatology is a study of the eschaton. The Readings of today, especially the First Reading (Daniel 12:1-3) and the Gospel (Mark 13:24-32) talk about the ‘end time.’ This Sunday, therefore, our focus of reflection is on this so-called Eschaton – the end of time, judgment and the second coming of Christ.
The First Reading, the Book of Daniel, talks about the end time. He talks about catastrophes and the resurrection of the dead. Since the dead will be resurrected there will be judgment i.e. some of those risen will have everlasting life and others will have everlasting shame (eternal damnation). Similarly, in today’s Gospel, our Lord Jesus describes the end time the same way as Daniel prophesied it. Jesus shares his vision of the end time with his disciples, that there will be some sort of cataclysmic event that will cause great suffering for all humanities. Jesus gives this frightening vision – the sun and moon are going to turn dark, the stars are going to fall from the sky, and heaven and earth are going to pass away. Scary isn’t it? But this is not meant to frighten us, on the contrary, it is meant to give us hope and to prepare us for such an inevitable event. Jesus’ vision didn’t simply end in chaos and destruction. He also talks about his second coming. “Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.” That means to say that the ‘end time’ is not the end of the story. It is not the end of time either. It is actually a new beginning. There may be an ‘end time’ but always have in mind that God’s love for us will never end. In the end, God’s glory and love prevail. It’s advent, therefore, is not something that we should be afraid of. We should only be afraid if we are caught unprepared. Today’s Liturgy, therefore, serves not just as a warning but an invitation and a challenge to be always prepared. Certainly, Jesus is coming at the end of time. When would that be? Jesus made the emphasis that no one knows when the end time will come. Many have predicted the end of time as if they were certain of but it didn’t happen. The truth is Jesus will return any time any day. But no one knows! God’s time is not our time. There is wisdom for us not knowing the precise moment. Just as we do not know the exact date of this event, it is wise to live our lives as if Jesus is coming back right now. Every day should be a preparation for our encounter with Jesus. We hear some people say, ‘when I get old or when I retire that’s the time I will devote myself serving the Lord.’ But why wait for that time, for it may never come. The time is right here, right now. Every day should be an encounter with Jesus. And lest we forget, while we wait for the second coming of our Lord, we also need to be aware that Jesus is present in our midst. It is as if we are waiting for someone who did not desert us in the first place. Again, as the Liturgy for this Sunday presents to us an apocalyptic discourse of Jesus, it is not meant to scare us but to prepare us and give us hope. The question should be – How are we to make good preparation? We need to be always in the state of grace, which is of course always a challenge to us. In making preparation, I am always reminded of the word PRAY- P.R.A.Y. P- stands for Perseverance. Always persevere to live a holy life. Do not be discouraged nor disappointed. But keep on persevering. Living a holy life is always a struggle and a challenge. If we persevere and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength then grace will abound. R- stands for Reflection. Always reflect. Socrates once said an ‘unreflected life is not worth living.’ Have always a good examination of conscience and avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We experience a loving and a forgiving Lord only if we come to him with a sincere and a contrite heart. A-stands for Action. Our holiness and good intentions should be translated into action. Acts of Charity should always be practiced by true Christians. James 2:14 &26 – “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? … For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Jesus commands us that our love of God should be translated into action – love your neighbor as yourself. And Y-stands for Yearning. Our hearts should have a deep longing for God. We should always desire God in our hearts. God must be the center of our lives. We always long to see the face of God. Psalm 41 – “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God; my soul is thirsting for God, the living God.”
At the end of our lives, God is going to ask us to give an account of how we live our lives. We are but pilgrims here on earth and heaven is a reward for those who remain faithful till the end. Our journey here on earth is a journey in joyful hope and anticipation for the coming of Christ.